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Paraguayan Civil War: PPA Leader Killed

Barron’s Magazine, transmitting an Agence France-Presse wire story, has reported that the Paraguayan government has secured a tactical win over the “small but violent” Paraguayan People’s Army. Within the past month-and-a-half, it has killed the group’s leader, Osvaldo Vilalbas. The country has experienced a small-scale civil war since either 2005 or 2008, as various dates are given to the genesis of this secretive group, a “Marxist-Leninist” guerilla army, that has been attacking and killing ruthlessly members of the Paraguayan and foreign Bourgeoisie, as well as indigenous tribal peoples.

The war has dragged on for decades, despite the fact that the PPA is estimated to have only between “50 and 150 people, and the fact that Paraguay receives current US arms to fight their rivals. 

In 2013, the BBC began reporting on their exploits, starting with the PPA’s killing of security guards employed by one of the lantifundistsas in the Paraguayan hinterland. These murders occurred the same week that a “multi-millionaire businessman” became President of Paraguay, “one of the poorest countries in South America.”

In response to the plantation killings, the Paraguayan state apportioned additional powers to the President to fight the PPA. The BBC wrote that some believed “the new powers were a dangerous development for a country that spent much of the 20th Century under military dictatorship.”

Two years later, the PPA attacked another plantation, eventually killing two immigrant lantifundistas, after “demanding money and food from local ranchers to be given to the poor as compensation.”

The English press reports were understandably negative on the PPA’s activities. However, some Paraguayans have favoured the PPA since they have seen large, foreign-owned plantations replace forests and receive little to no benefit from the state.

In 2016, the PPA scored more victories against the Paraguayan state, as the bandits managing to kill 8 Paraguayan soldiers. In 2018, two Germans were released after they handed over food supplies to the local community and paid a ransom to the PPA. However, one German family could not afford the £357,000 ransom demanded by the PPA, and they slaughtered him.

The Paraguayan army has engaged in brutality in their attempt to exterminate the insurgency. They killed two 11-year-old Argentinian girls in 2020, claiming they were heavily-armed terrorists. The BBC reported at the time, The security forces buried the girls’ bodies that same day, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the swift burial. Their clothes were also burned by the security forces. On Wednesday, Paraguayan President Mario Abdó had described the raid on the rebel camp as “a successful operation”. “It was successful in that some members of the EPP were brought down,” the President said, implying that the two girls - who were the only fatalities - were rebels.”

The Paraguayan state believed the 11-year-olds were guilty of being PPA members after finding books “about” philosopher Karl Marx and leader of the Russian Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin near their bodies.

Earlier this year, the PPA and Paraguayan state continued their struggle, with the PPA kidnapping the former Vice President of the country and Paraguay kidnapping the daughter of a PPA leader. In denouncing the PPA, the latest of Paraguay’s millionaire Presidents stated,This is not the way to fight for what one thinks, for the ideals they defend.”

It remains to be seen whether the Paraguayan People’s Army will continue to operate and conduct small operations against the local elites or if the blow will cause a terminal decline in the group.

Paraguay is a land-locked nation in South America. It gained independence from the Spanish Empire in 1811, and has had a turbulent existentce, warring with virtually all of its neighbours, and suffering under dictatorship several times, most recently from 1954-1989. 

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Tags: BBC Argentina Osvaldo Vilalbas PPA AFP Marx Barron's Marxism Lenin Paraguay EPP


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